LIHUE — Kapaa High School’s varsity boys soccer team won this year’s Kauai Interscholastic Federation championship Saturday.
The Warriors clinched the league title and a berth at the Division II state tournament following Island School’s nil-nil draw with Kauai High earlier in the day.
“It was a battle through the whole season,” said Kapaa head coach Kevin Cram. “We started out a bit slow, but I knew they had it in them to get it done. It’s just a matter of whether that would happen or not, and it did.”
Kapaa (7-2-3 KIF, 24 points) went on to defeat Waimea, 3-1, in the afternoon at Vidinha Stadium.
Warriors sophomore midfielder La’akea Gonsalves scored the match’s opening goal at the 11th minute from outside the penalty area.
In the second half, Gonsalves had the assist on the team’s second goal for a 2-1 lead. Gonsalves made a run to the 18-yard box and passed back to senior forward Joshua Layaoen, who then slotted the ball past Menehune goalkeeper, sophomore Levi Snowden.
“I just saw an opening on the first one. I just tried to go and saw the opening to shoot. Yeah, just took it,” Gonsalves said.
Gonsalves said of winning the KIF title and going to states: “I think it will be a really good experience. I hope we can do good up there and represent our island well.”
Warriors junior forward Ryno Banasihan scored Kapaa’s third goal later in the half to secure the win to end the regular season.
The 2018 The Queen’s Medical Center Boys Soccer Championships – Division II tournament begins Feb. 15 on Oahu. Seedings and schedules are yet to be released.
“At states, if all goes well, you’ll have three games in a row,” Cram said. “We’ve got to do a little bit of fitness and get them prepared for three consecutive matches. That’s usually the biggest challenge.”
Waimea (5-6-1 KIF, 16 points) got an equalizing goal early in the second half. Menehune sophomore midfielder River Owen scored from inside the penalty area after a scramble for the ball in front of goal.
“We just wanted to have fun today. Came out and mixed things up,” said Waimea head coach Kapono Chong-Hanssen. “The result wasn’t so important. I think Kapaa also had fun today. It was just one of those games where the two teams decided to change things up and enjoy our last game of the season, especially for the seniors.”
Waimea was eliminated from league contention following a 1-0 loss to Kauai High on Wednesday.
The Menehune won the previous two KIF titles. Waimea started this season with four consecutive wins.
“It probably felt more disappointing than it needed to be because we got off to such a quick start. From the beginning, I thought that we were a little bit lucky to get all the wins right at the beginning,” Chong-Hanssen said. “We had key injuries that affected us during certain parts of the season, and that was frustrating.
“But all-in-all, having such a young team and more than half the starters were usually sophomores, I felt pretty positive about the season as a whole. Of course, we’re disappointed. But after losing so many seniors last year and having such a young team, we’re pleased with how the season went.”
Saturday was Kapaa’s senior day. Seven Warriors were recognized following the match.
“We have some good players. They were good leaders,” Cram said of his senior class. “We’ll miss them in the coming years, but that’s the nature of the beast with high school. We’ll just fill in and move forward.”
With Saturday’s result in Puhi, Island School finished the season with a 6-5-1 record (19 points), and Kauai ended with a 2-7-3 record (nine points).
Kapaa 3, Waimea 1; Kapaa goal scorers: La’akea Gonsalves (11’), Joshua Layaoen (53’), Ryno Banasihan (56’); Waimea goal scorer: River Owen (49’); Discipline: N/A
Island 0, Kauai 0; Discipline: Ryan Yavinsky, Island, yellow (persistent infringement); Kyle Bissara, Kauai, yellow (persistent infringement); Logan Noice, Kauai, red (serious foul play)